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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Civil War (MA) - 109 minutes

America is at war with itself, a bloody, take-no-prisoners war.

 

The President (Nick Offerman) has declared he is on the verge of victory, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Looking to take over is the combined military might of Texas and California.

 

Covering the conflict are seasoned war photographer Lee (Kirsten Dunst) and journalist Joel (Wagner Moura), who work for Reuters.

 

The President hasn’t given an interview for 14 months and they are determined to break the drought.

 

To try to reach him in Washington DC, they need to drive a hazardous, indirect route of nearly 1,400 kilometres and he certainly won’t be rolling out the welcome mat.

Along the way, many untold dangers lurk, but they are all about doing their jobs.

 

Tagging along are veteran New York Times correspondent Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson) and 23-year-old, wet behind the ears, photographer Jessie (Cailee Spaeny).

 

To the latter, the full horror and heartbreak of war is writ large on the eye-opening journey she is about to undertake.

 

All are frequently at imminent risk, including from lawless individuals that have lost any sense of humanity.

 

Among them is a recalcitrant shooter (Jesse Plemons).

Writer and director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) is a master filmmaker who steps it up a notch with the blockbuster Civil War.

 

It is intense and visceral. It has a lot to say about the civil disobedience in society and where it can lead.

 

It does so by focusing on the documenters of war and how they go about their business.

 

The story is disturbingly compelling, enriched by strong performances.

The buildup of war time atrocities is deeply ingrained in Lee, having covered many conflicts. Her world weariness is written all over Kirsten Dunst’s face.

 

Wagner Moura channels Joel’s gung-ho nature, whose excitement is tempered by the harsh realities that lie ahead.

 

Cailee Spaeny’s wide eyed innocence is a feature of her role as newbie Jessie.


Stephen McKinley Henderson portrays Sammy as a wily old fox who should have retired, but can’t find it within himself to do so.

Plemons’ characterisation is simply downright evil.

 

Rob Hardy’s visuals and the soundscape are unforgettable … scarring and seared deeply in my mind.

 

Garland has used his large canvas admirably. The ugliness … the shock and awe are palpable throughout. The brutality of war is laid bare.

 

Civil War is rich and redolent and remains seared into my psyche.

 

Rated MA, it scores a 9 out of 10.

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